[quote]So would it be possible to access my website using http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx/mywebsite or that sort of thing?
Some hosts work this way, and allow you to connect to your site with the IP address of the box. Dreamhost isn’t one of those hosts.
[quote]When a website is assigned to a domain… The domain is basically a mask for the IP correct? so instead of the IP Address you see the bhlahlah.com?
Not really. This is where DNS servers come into play. Becuase dreamhost, and just about anybody else, doesn’t want to have to promise that the yoda server wiill have the same IP address for ever. So, when you say I want to go to example.com you computer says, “hello? hello Mr. DNS? I want to connect to example.com - where is it?” The DNS server replies with the current ip address. Then you computer is able to send the request to that ip address for the domain.
It’s easy for dreamhost to update their dns server to show a new ip address for a box. This can be really helpful - for instance becuase dreamhost was/is a little tight on IPs aviable to them, they went through all of the machines re-arranged IP addresses, and updated the dns server. So while the IP address of the box change, it’s accessability wasn’t ever comprimised.
You might find this Wikipedia article helpful.